Over the last few weeks, there has been a vigorous debate surrounding the truthfulness of the coriolis effect in context of bathtubs and sinks.
It is a widely held belief that water always flows clockwise down a drain in the southern hemisphere, and counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere, with a load of YouTube videos, and sly scammers preying on tourists “proving” this.
The real truth of the matter is that, while the coriolis effect is real, it is far too weak to affect the fow patterns of a sink of water. It requires vast ocean-sized areas in which to work. The shape of the container, and how the water is moving has far greater effect than the coriolis effect.
Now, you would think that sound reasoning, as well as being backed up by scientific literature, it amazes me that people are far more willing to believe the lie, than accept that what they believed is false.
In my experience, it is very easy to get someone to believe something that they hear for the first time, but after this first encounter, it is excrutiatingly difficult to get them to change their world view, if the first explanation proves to be invalid.
This goes for other things too. Take the story about the PowerBalance bracelet that claimed to give you more strength and healthier body because of a small holographic device. It turned out to be a completely bogus scam, but I still heard people claiming it worked even after the scam broke!
There are so many pseudoscientific claims out there – such as ESP, UFOs, Velikovsky, astrology – that you could write many thick books discussing, and debunking them, but sometimes, I just wish people would wake up and think for themselves a bit.
That may sound a bit idealistic – the realist in me knows that people will be people, and that pseudoscientific nonsense will never go away. The claims will change but there will always be willing people to fall for them.